A Leading Pitching Coach For Over 30 Years
My name is Hector Berrios, I was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York City at the age of 7. The South Bronx was a challenging place to be raised in the 1970’s with the many crimes related to gang violence, buildings being burned to the ground by landlords to collect insurance, poor educational system. Worst of all were the impoverished living conditions. All that being said the Bronx produced One of the highest-ranking officers in Colin Powell, it was the birth place, Hip-hop, Breakdancing, and many other great things that evolve throughout this great country.
Not long after moving to the Bronx I met Chris Abernethy, a fireman. Chris and his sister Ann raised me in East Williston, Long Island for two weekends of the month and the entire summer out in Jamesport in the Riverhead section of Long Island. I led a double life being an inner-city kid and an upper middle-class boy half the time. Chris and Ann played a pivotal role in my life because they showed me there was an opportunity to break the shackles of poverty even though I was in the midst of gang violence, buildings burning and an educational system that was at the bottom of its class. With these limited resources one would guess that the odds were stacked against me. I was blessed with two talents that ran parallel with each other which was dancing and baseball. I excelled at both as I began to win many dance contests and eventually landed on a Disco dance group that were regularly on famous tv programs, shows, and telethons. We also performed at dinner shows, and eventually touring Europe entertaining the Prince of Morocco being the highlight of the tour.
I also played baseball from little leagues through high school. I was an all-star wherever I played as I exhibited natural talents that caught the eye of the organizers who took me to travel to the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico 3 consecutive years to play against international competition. As I matured played in High /School I played for the winningest baseball coach in NYC history Mike Turo. I was one of his first two all-city players and the first one to get signed by an MLB organization. I continued my baseball quest at Connors State College in Warner, Oklahoma. Playing for head coach Gary Vaught and alongside of future big-league pitcher Mark Leiter. I was a centerfielder making all-conference and was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 9th round of the January draft as an Outfielder/pitcher which I turned down, but eventually signed with the Kansas City Royals to pitch. My first year in professional baseball I put up some solid numbers 2.53 ERA with 57 IP 52 H 16 ER 30 BB 70 K in Eugene, Or. The following year I pitched through elbow issues without the same effectiveness and was released on the last day of the 1985 Spring Training.
After sitting out all of 1985 and feeling healthy again, I decided to give professional baseball another shot by going down to the Dominican Republic in front of scouts and was offered a contract to pitch for the Detroit Tigers for the 1987 season. I got off to a slow start, but eventually everything began to click putting together another solid season after being away for a whole calendar year to post 2.79 ERA with 87 IP 70 H 27 ER 35 BB 93 K. That season got me a promotion the following year to Double A where I experienced a lower back injury as I was warming for my first appearance. The back injury kept me out of action for a half of season. When I started to pitch with good success, I was shifted into the rotation where I won my first 3 starts. Then I started to feel elbow discomfort that turned out to be bone chips eventually needing to be removed. My 1988 season was mostly used to rehabilitate and basically prepare for the 1989 season. In the winter of 1988-89 I pitched for the San Juan Metros in Puerto Rico where I pitched the best baseball of my career and winning the championship against Los Criollos de Caguas that featured a young Juan Gonzalez and many other outstanding MLB players. I was chosen as the Co-MVP of the series along with former MLB player Hector Villanueva as I pitched 12 scoreless innings during that best of 9 series. The bad news was that I reinjured my elbow and wasn’t the same once I was pitching for the Detroit Tigers. I became a minor league free agent and signed with the Anaheim Angels for the 1991 season where I reached the Triple A level for the first time in my career. I then signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 1992 season being invited to Big League Camp enjoying a clubhouse with a young Pedro Martinez, Darryl Strawberry, Eric Davis, Orel Hershiser, Mike Scioscia, and not forgetting the famous Tommy Lasorda. After the freeway series against the Angels I was sent to Albuquerque, New Mexico where I was released in May and signed by the Cubs finishing the season in Des Moines, Iowa. After that season I recovered from another elbow injury this time taking longer than the previous ones to comeback in 1993 during the Puerto Rican Winter League. This time it would be the last time I pitched as a professional as I tore what is call the Ulnar Collateral Ligament (Tommy John).